Rationale for ACEs questions in the ACT KHC

Emerging Minds and ANU, Australia, February

Resource Summary

Parents/carers of children entering school in the ACT are invited each year to agree to their child undergoing an ACT Kindergarten Health Check (KHC). The KHC involves a physical health check and a questionnaire with health, developmental and behavioural questions.

From 2020, the KHC will also include questions regarding children’s adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Parents/carers nominate their family GP to receive a copy of their KHC results, so they can be discussed in the context of a trusted and confidential family consultation. The information below explains the rationale for including ACEs questions in the KHC.

Download the ACEs interpretation guide for the ACT Kindergarten Health Check, which shows the ACEs questions that parents were asked in the KHC.

The rationale for ACEs questions in the KHC

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) strongly predict the risk of poor outcomes throughout life. From 2020, parents/carers are asked questions in the ACT Kindergarten Health Check (KHC) about the ACEs that their child may have experienced.

Adding ACEs questions to the KHC questionnaire greatly improves early identification and intervention for children at risk, with better life-long prospects for these children, reduced health burden and costs throughout life, and reduced intergenerational transmission of adversity.

At population level, ACEs information also facilitates efficient estimation of current and longer term health-risks, and better targeted service planning and delivery.

By working together with parents and families, and taking a child-focused and strengths-based approach, it is possible to implement prevention and early intervention processes that support parenting and keep the child’s mental health and wellbeing in mind.

This toolkit has been put together to support GPs and other practitioners in initiating talks with families about their child’s adverse childhood experience’s exposure and ways to initiate solutions.

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